Thursday, January 9, 2014

From Buffalo to Lehighton: Snyder's Colonial Court Mansion

The Colonial Court Mansion has intrigued many, mainly due to its high-colonial style and partly due to its mysteriously short life here in Lehighton.  It once stood near the site of the assassination of President McKinley, brought here by T. A. Snyder by rail and hailed by historians as the "most beautiful home in the Lehigh Valley."
Originally built in 1901 at the Pan Am Exposition in Buffalo, New York as the Michigan State Building, the stately manor
was purchased by T. A. Snyder and transported to Lehighton piece by piece via the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1903.  This view is looking north across present day Iron St Lehighton.  Seventh Street would be perpendicular to the left.  The address of the current home is 638 Iron Street and the cement orbs and stairs were still visible until the last few years when a ramp took their place.  See the 1915 Sanborn Fire Assessment Map of Lehighton inserted below.  
(Photo courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.)
As promised in theBlakslee's Trolleys Post of January 1, 2014, here is a more in-depth look atthe mansion and the man who brought it here, Attorney Theodore Allen Snyder (Or"T. A." as he was known), one of the backers of the Carbon Electric Railway.
Here is how Lehighton's "Colonial Court Mansion" looked when it was first built for the Pan Am Expo of 1901.
It was the Michigan Building near the "Indian Mound" in the lower right quadrant of the "Rumsey Property"
near the buildings from Ecquador and New England.  It appears as though this shot was taken with the American Flag
at half-staff from President McKinley's death.  Also, you can see small nuanced changes Snyder made to the home, such
as the second floor outer windows on the front were converted into doors for access onto the balcony that was modified to wrap-around to the front.
Photo courtesy of "Doing the Pan." (Click here for more.)

Theodore Allen Snyder came to the area at the youthful age of twenty to by the principal of the Lehighton Schools.  He married a local girl, Miss Emma Hauk in 1879, and then returned to his hometown of Stroudsburg to pursue the study of law.  Having passed the bar in Monroe County, he returned to Lehighton after 1883 to once again run the Lehighton Schools. By the age of twenty-eight, he became Superintendent of Carbon County’s Schools, the youngest in state history to hold such an office.

From John Jordan's 1905 "Historic Homes and
Institutions and Genealogical and Personal
Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley Vol. I.
After his three, three-year terms, Snyder retired from the school business and established himself in the Carbon Bar.  Along with his brother-in-law Atty. Charles A. Hauk, he opened up a law office in Lehighton.  (Hauk was known to also have offices in Weatherly and Mauch Chunk as well.) 
  
Snyder would become one of Lehighton’s key financial and land development pioneers.  He served as solicitor and secretary to the boards of many key institutions. Among them were the Lehighton Savings and Loan and the Enterprise Building and Loan companies, the Lehighton Electric Power Plant and, along with James Irwin Blakslee Jr, helped bring electric trolley service to the town.  

He was the key player in the Lehighton Land Development Association that developed much of the agrarian land between Fifth and Tenth Streets.

The Pan Am Exposition of 1901:
By the time “T. A.,” as he was known, and his wife Emma attended the Pan American Exposition of 1901, he was a well-established, some say controversial figure in the economics and politics of the town.  The Snyders were said to have “fallen in love” with the Michigan state building at the Expo, mainly because of its “lovely sweeping lines” of colonial architecture.
This is one of the many beautiful and informational pictures from the
non-profit website "Doing the Pan."  This is recommended reading for a complete understanding of the 1901 Pan Am Expo.  This picture appears courtesy of "Doing the Pan."  Click this link to take you there.
The Pan Am was meant to showcase the promise of the newly developed hydro-electricity generation of the Niagara Falls.  An “Exposition Committee” was formed in 1897 to raise money and to select a site.  There was stiff competition between holding it at Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York. 

Though Niagara was already a tourist mecca at that time, Buffalo edged them out with its transportation advantage.  With a potential for the forty million visitors who lived along the rail lines connecting to Buffalo (including our own Lehigh Valley Railroad) to come to the Expo, the organizers wisely chose Buffalo.  The 350-acre “Rumsey Property” was a twenty-minute trolley ride from downtown.  The site was surrounded on three-sides by trolley lines, costing five cents for the twenty-minute ride from the train stations. 

However the Spanish-American War interrupted the process in 1898, delaying the ground breaking until 1899.  The Exposition started its six month run on May 1st, 1901.  The grounds were covered with many grandiose, colorful buildings, giving the Expo the nickname “Rainbow City.” 

The main structure was the 375-foot tall “Electric Tower.”  There was the “Grand Canal” spanned by the “Triumphal Bridge,” U.S. Government buildings built to showcase the Navy, Post Office, Agriculture, Treasury, Patent office and etc. 
A panoramic view of the 1901 Expo in Buffalo.  The average American didn't have even one light bulb in their home at this point.  Here, you had buildings covered in thousands of lights.  The Aeoriocycle was said to be covered with 2,000 bulbs itself.
The Aeriocycle on the Midway: Located in the northeast
end of the Expo.  Photo courtesy of "Doing the Pan."

The Aeriocycle was built at a cost of $40,000.  It had one ferris-type wheel at each end of its 240-feet arm that articulated from an impressive 140-foot tall base and fulcrum.  It was studded with over 2,000 light bulbs and used a forty-horsepower engine to lift the arm while a fourteen-horsepower engine at each end rotated the carriage.  A ride on it cost as much as admission to the entire event: twenty-five cents.

There were ornate buildings dedicated to exhibiting the latest in 
everything, from manufacturing to liberal arts, from agriculture to mining, from a 2,000 seat stadium complex to the “Art Building” to the “Ethnology Building” to the “Temple of Music.”

Leon Czogosz, a native born
assassin was brutally beaten
from the Secret Service, to the
Buffalo Police, down to
throngs of crowds along the
way, and on up to his trial
and execution in the
electric chair.  All within
two months of killing
President McKinley.


It was at the “Temple of Music” that on September 6th that President William McKinley was assassinated by Leon Czolgosz.  Contrary to what many believe, Czogosz was not a foreign born terrorist.  He was born in Alpena Michigan in 1873 to parents who emigrated here in 1860 from what is today Belarus.  He had been caught up in anarchistic-mindfulness and was said to have shot the President because no one man should hold so much power while so many remain so powerless.

Among the foreign countries to have buildings were Mexico, Honduras, Canada, and etc.  Our new ally Cuba was also there as well as Ecuador, whose building was adjacent to the Michigan Building.  Other states showcasing a building were: Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Minnesota, Missouri, and others.  The New England States produced one together while Alaska, then still only a territory, built a rustic pioneer cabin albeit a rather large one.
  

According to one source, “ninety-five percent of the buildings were built temporarily…built of chicken wire over wooden frames with a base coat of plaster.”  Supposedly, many of these seemingly complex and ornate structures were badly deteriorating already by the end of the six-month run of the Expo.
  
The Michigan State Building:
The state of Michigan appropriated the sum of $43,000 to build, furnish, and occupy the building to receive a total of 500,000 visitors.  Of those, 35,000 guests were from Michigan.  (The Michigan Commission claimed their building “received more visitors than any other state building.”)  

During its six-month life-span, it housed administrative and custodial staff including a full-time “house matron” (Miss Minnie Conger of Litchfield, MI). 

One cannot help but notice the amount of pride the state of Michigan had for its efforts at the Expo.  In their final report to their State House, they boasted that although they were “not the first state to break ground, but were the first to open doors.”  They went on to say that their building was “one of the most attractive buildings on the grounds.” 

The building cost $10,000 to construct and $3,424.29 to furnish.  A relatively cheap price when compared to the New York building with a price tag of $375,000.  
 
This artist conception map shows the Michigan Building catty-corner down and left from the "Indian Mound" at the top right of the picture.
Map appears courtesy of "Doing the Pan."
(One reason for this disparity in costs is attributed to the fact that the New York building was the only one built with the intent to remain permanently at the site.  It was built with white Vermont marble and can be visited today as the Buffalo Historical Museum.)

The one-hundred foot long and eighty-one foot wide building was designed by Mr. Louis Kamper of Detroit and erected by G. J. Vinton & Co. also of Detroit.  It was painted white, with fluted columns on three sides, with a shingled roof that was stained green.
 
The Michigan Building here at Buffalo seen from the right side, the
main entrance is toward the left of the frame.
The “imposing front” looked across the open court to the Lagoon and the Fisheries Building on the North.  It was flanked by the New England Building on the west and the Ecuador Building on east.  

The entry opened up into a “spacious hall,” with a “ladies parlor” to the right and one for men to the left.  Writing desks contained stationary for visitors to write home.  There was an upright piano for entertainment.  The gentleman’s parlor had heavy mahogany and leather furniture and the ladies’ side had rattan furniture. 

Over fifty works of art were on loan and displayed throughout.  The main hall had a “massive fireplace” and the rest of the first floor contained the secretary's office, the post office, a coat check room and two “toilet rooms.”

The second floor was done in Flemish oak with a writing room on the right and on the left the Commissioners’ room containing “every convenience.”  There were also “private apartments” for the Secretary and his assistants on either side of the second floor.

The Wisconsin state building is one of only two main buildings from the Expo that still exists.  In comparison, Wisconsin claimed its building had a price tag of $35,000 to construct.  They too claimed to be the first state building completed.  (See the end of this story for more on this building’s history and how it looks today.)
The Wisconsin Building as it appeared at the Expo.  Like the Michigan Building,
it was removed from its location in Buffalo and taken elsewhere.  However, it is
the only known building to survive other than the New York Building.
Appears courtesy of the Buffalo History Works (click here.)




















Rise of the Colonial Court:
Except for the New York building, when the Expo came to its end in November of 1901, the remaining buildings were either to be auctioned off or demolished.  The auction occurred in October of 1901.  A man named James Hurd is said to have done the bidding for Snyder.  The winning bid according to the Michigan State Commission report and other sources say the winning amount was $500.  It was one of two buildings Snyder purchased that day.
Here is a new view of the building from Seventh St.  Note the tower in the back of the home is not noticeable in any
other picture.  Also note the two-story barn with cupola across the alley at the rear.  From John Jordan's 1905 "Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley Vol. I.

Perhaps it was one of Snyder’s desires to one day serve as a judge in his adopted county, just as his dear friend and legal benefactor, the Honorable Judge Storm John B. Storm, did in Monroe County.   (Snyder’s father served as Judge Storm’s “Court Crier.”)  Snyder studied law under Storm and perhaps in deference to the life and death of his friend, Snyder wanted to bestow his home with the name “Colonial Court.”

 The admission to the Expo at just twenty-five cents is roughly $9.oo today.  And when one considers the telephone bill for the six months the building existed at the Expo to be $25.20, a bill for the ice used at $76.01, the $299.83 for postage, the $676.13 for printing and stationary, and a whopping $302.95 six-month electric bill, the cost Snyder paid truly was a remarkable bargain.
T. A. Snyder himself in repose from around 1905.  From John Jordan's
 1905 "Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal
Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley Vol. I.

However, one should be careful for what ones wishes.  It would be a remarkable discovery to find the bills associated with the de-construction, the transportation, and re-fabrication of this building, but no one seems to know. 

The Michigan State Committee showed an expense of $356.68 for “packing and removal” which certainly only included the personal effects the committee needed to return to Michigan.  One can only guess that the cost to dismantle the building alone was substantially more than any of the previously stated costs.

Sometime in early 1903, the pieces of the Michigan State building arrived at the Lehigh Valley Railroad’s freight terminal.  At that time, Mahoning Street was not the east-west thoroughfare that it is today.  The founding planners had intended for Iron Street to be that main route. 
Here is an aerial shot appearing courtesy of Lamont Ebbert and Gordon Ripkey.  Note Iron St in front of the mansion
and Seventh St. to the left.  In the foreground is the Lehighton Cemetery.  The square two-level building to the
right of the mansion is across S. Birch Alley and is the Snyder family barn.  Out of sight behind the pine trees to the
right of the barn is their large chicken coop or "fowl pen and building."  These aspects as well as the surrounding
houses can be seen in the Sanborn Map of 1915 accompanied below.  Also note how agrarian the town was at the time.
The rolling fields are now blocks and blocks of residential houses, in part due to the efforts of Theodore Snyder
and his "Lehighton Land Development Company."  (The Ebbert/Ripkey Lehighton Book is available at most businesses
in town or can be purchased through a link on this website above or by clicking HERE.)
Amid all the development deals Snyder laid out up to that point, he chose the corner of Seventh and Iron for himself and his new mansion.  The aerial view of Lehighton, included here, shows just how agricultural the vicinity was in those days.  The Snyder estate looked to encompass the entire block from Iron to Mahoning and from Seventh to Sixth streets.
The Sanborn Maps were a fire risk assessment reference for insurance companies.  This
map was done in Lehighton in October 1915 just months before the devastating fire at 638
Iron St.  A few things are apparent when you compare this diagram to the picture above:
The barn with a hip-style roof stood across S Birch Alley and nearby it was a "fowls"
building large enough to be included on the map.  The buildings seen here can be ascertained
 in the picture and most importantly, we can see just how far off from Iron St it was located.
Compared to the home that took its place, the Colonial Court commands the block.
It is easy to see the expanse of land it once took, nearly one-square block.

The grounds were said to include gardens, a pond, and a zoo, replete with deer and peacocks.  There was a barn known to house the several “fine horses” they owned, as evidenced in the picture with the young woman and carriage in front of the estate.
Not only is it impolite to guess the lady's age but it is hard to reckon just who she is.  It could be T. A. Snyder's wife, Emma Hauk Snyder or their daughter Edith.  The picture was surely taken well after 1903 judging by the growth of the landscaping, but it has to be sometime before Emma's death in the summer of 1915.  For reference, daughter Edith was   twenty-six but perhaps thirty if it were the summer before her mother's death.  If it is Edith, it very well could be mother Emma looking proud, gazing off the balcony.  The horses certainly do look to be of the finest breeding, as other records suggest the Snyders to have owned.  Their sharp grace enhance the beauty of Lehighton's most prized piece of real estate.  The broad porches and "sweeping lines" are said to be what the Snyder's fell in love with at the Pan Am Expo.
The woman on the porch seems to be proudly looking on.  Photo courtesy of the Brad Haupt collection.

It has been said that Snyder was quite fond of his deer and how close an attachment both animal and human had to the other.  However, the legend goes on to say that on one rainy day, Snyder dressed in a floppy “rain hat and slicker” went unrecognized by his friends and was unexpectedly mauled by a protective buck.  There is also anecdotal evidence of escaping deer creating excitement in town among the other residents.
The dining room to the rear with the noticeable tower bump out at left.
From John Jordan's 1905 "Historic Homes & Memoirs of the Lehigh
Valley" Vol. I.

The view from the main entry-way and the southern-arm style stairway.
From John Jordan's 1905 "Historic Homes & Memoirs of the Lehigh
Valley" Vol. I.

Since the Michigan building was designed to house State Expo Commissioners for extended time periods, each of the seven bedrooms was built as its own apartment, each with its own attached bath.  According to one website, the walls of most of the buildings were prefabricated and not intended for long-term use.  It is unknown if the original interior design and walls were reused once in Lehighton. 
Here is a Seventh St side view of Snyder's mansion as it appears it
Eckhart's 'History of Carbon County,' Volume III, page 246.

Viola (Miller) Fritzinger and her parents Charles and Phoebe Miller lived at the Mansion for a short time from 1915 into 1916.  Viola was a young girl of twelve at the time and was interviewed by local historian Ralph Kreamer in the mid-1950s.  According to Miller-Fritzinger, the walls were “padded in pink brocaded satin” and there were hand-painted angels on the ceiling.

The ceiling of the wood-paneled library had the coat of arms from famous families of the world painted on the ceiling.  Given that there was nothing too particularly “Michigan” about the described interiors, it seems as though the Snyders gave these personal touches to the building themselves.     

Snyder’s Demise Brings the Beginning of the End of Colonial Court:

It is unknown how long T. A. Snyder was feeling the effects of the tumor that was amassing on his liver.  He traveled to St Luke’s Hospital in Bethelhem by rail on a Saturday and was operated on by Monday.  He pulled through the operation well enough, but a “gradual decline” was noted. 

By Wednesday the family was urgently called to be by his side.  He passed that Thursday, May the 16th, 1907.  The Central Jersey train brought his remains to town at 3:12 PM and his body was conveyed to his home for burial preparations. 

He is buried at the Hauk-Snyder plot, the first plot straightaway as you enter the main gate of the Lehighton Cemetery.
The Snyder-Hauk family monument is the first obelisk that
greets you as you enter the Lehighton Cemetery at
the main gate at Fourth St.  Note the horse stables of the
Lehighton Fair Grounds to the west.  The Snyder mansion
would be out of frame to the right.  This cemetery can be
referenced from the aerial photo above.  This photo among
several of the Haupt family collection seem to focus on the
Snyder family supporting that there was more than just a
passing interest in the preservation of the Snyder-Hauk
family memory.

Theodore and Emma had two children, son Raymond John Snyder was born May 15th 1882.  Their daughter Edith May Snyder was born on January 11, 1884.  As of the spring of 1910, Emma and her children were still living at 638 Iron Street.  With them was a twenty-two year old live-in “servant” Miss Theresa Mery and a thirty-one year old “coachman” George Bonser.

According to one source, the Snyder family moved out of the estate prior to Emma’s death on June 2, 1915.  By then Emma May had married Charles Fordyce Ames. 

Sometime during the summer of 1915, perhaps a decision made by Raymond and Emma upon their mother’s death, they decided to lease their former family estate out to Charles and Phoebe Miller of Lehighton.  Charles was an air brake inspector on the railroad and they hoped to live in fine style as well as operate the mansion as a boarding house.
According to this Lehighton Press front page article
from June 1915, Mrs. Emma Snyder was having stroke
troubles for about a year and was staying with her
daughter Mrs. Ames in Cinncinnati.  Therefore,
the Colonial Court could have been vacated by the
Snydersas early as the summer of 1914.

Perhaps the venture wasn’t working out as planned for by the following spring, the Miller family only had one boarder, the remaining unused rooms being closed off.  The sole roomer besides their hired “servant girl” was Robert Webb, a worker at the Eugene Baer Silk Mill three blocks below the mansion at the bottom of Seventh Street.  

The Millers were looking to walk away from their lease in the upcoming summer.

Their moving plans however, were accelerated when a mysterious fire broke out one night in April.

The Fire:
Sometime around 1:30 AM, boarder Robert Webb was awakened by smoke pouring into his room from the closet of his second floor bedroom.  He alerted the Miller family and the servant.  The fire was said to be “coming from everywhere at once.”  Miller returned back inside to retrieve a few possessions and nearly lost his life.
The two fire stations were only five blocks away.  But the muddy spring streets hampered their efforts.  Reports of the bright blaze came from far out the Mahoning Valley.  All hopes at saving any of the iconic building died when the nearby fire hydrants gave forth little to no water, the pipes, like the streets were clogged with mud.
By 6:00 AM, the tall columns had fallen into the center of the smoldering remains of the fire and were burned.     

The Current Residence:
By 1930, William S. Dreisbach and his wife Amaza “Anna” constructed a home on the site that remains to this day.  Until recently, the residence was still adorned with the ornamental concrete orbs and stairs at the head of the walkway
This is the Lehighton Press article
from Friday, April 7th, 1916, three
days after the fire.  Before the time
of the WWII air-raid sirens most
towns have today, the engineers
along the Packerton Yards saw the
blaze in the sky, and they alerted
the town with what had to be a
blaring cacophony of sound.
 leading to the front of the Colonial Court.  Today, only a landscape ramp marks the stair location.
The William S. Dreisbach home as it appeared sometime after the 1930s.  The street light indicates a photo of at least
fifty years ago, but it does look just about as it did as late as the 1990s.  The concrete orbs and stairs were replaced
in about the last five years with an updated ramp, but it does remain as a precise indicator of the Colonial Court's
original stairs.  Iron St. travels out the right of the frame while Seventh St enters the frame at the left.
Photo courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.

From the Ashes?
As mentioned earlier, the Michigan State Building was not the only building purchased from the Expo by the Snyders.  They also bought the Pennsylvania Building at auction.  The common held belief is this building was never completely re-assembled here.  Rather, pieces of it were used to rebuild the Flagstaff Mountain Resort of Packerton after it suffered a fire.  (Watch my YouTube video of Flagstaff mountain shot from Bear Mountain.)
Besides the spectacular view of many miles from the peak of Flagstaff,
including the many folds of mountains surrounding Lehighton and
Mauch Chunk, giving it the nickname the "Switzerland of America," the
above amusement was icing on the cake for a day-off spent at the
resort.  The ballroom was the scene of many dances, dance shows and
vaudeville performances.  The grounds and restored ballroom are still
open to sight-seeing travelers today.
Photo courtesy of Brad Haupt collection.
(YouTube Video of Flagstaff Mountain shot from Mauch Chunk Mountain.)

There is also a rumor of note around town that the columns from the Colonial Court ended up in Weissport.  If the above report is to be believed in all its literal sense, the columns were consumed by the fire, as some have maintained.  
The Pennsylvania building is the other building Snyder
purchased from the Expo of 1901.  It is said pieces and parts
of it were used in the reconstruction of the Flagstaff's
"Ballroom in the Clouds" and perhaps other buildings
on the site after the original ballroom also suffered a fire.

However others have speculated that Dr. Haberman’s columns were indeed those from the Michigan Building.  The timing of the demise of the Mansion and the construction of Haberman’s home somewhat coincides.  The 200 Franklin Street home was built sometime after 1920.  

The Mayes Melber Funeral Home, the former Dr. Haberman home and office at 200 Franklin Street, Weissport.
The building remains in Weissport as the Mayes-Melber Funeral home.  The columns origination still remains a mystery.
Could these columns by from the Colonial Court?  This is the former home built by Dr. Charles Haberman
of 200 Franklin St, Weissport.  It is the current home of Tom and Mary Melber, proprietors of the Mayes-
Melber Funeral home there.  Photo courtesy of the Melbers.
Both column tops appear to be of the Ionian-style.  The
Colonial Court is a scan of an original photo above and below, the photo below is a modern shot of the Haberman/Melber home.  Upon closer look, it doesn't appear to be the same design, as the "Court" above looks to have a 'crown-like' emblem in the middle while the Haberman/Melber below looks to have more like a 'pineapple' design.  

The Haberman/Mayes-Melber Funeral Home Columns today at 200 Franklin Street, Weissport.
One Last Thought: 

No one knows how much interest there’d still be if the Michigan State Building/Colonial Court Snyder Mansion still stood here in Lehighton.  Among all the major buildings from the 1901 Exposition, all are gone but two.  The first as previously mentioned was the New York building built permanently at the site.  The other building, the Wisconsin State Building still stands in Port Abino, Ontario (see below).  

Legend has it that a Buffalonian named Henry Dickinson transported it across the frozen Lake Erie in forty-seven hay-wagons.  It is not known if the lake froze that year.

The Wisconsin Building Remains - It has been a curiosity
at Port Abino, Ontario since it was moved here after
the Pan Am of 1901 and it lives on as a summer
home today.
The owners of the now summer home along the Canadian shore have received frequent inquiries from curiosity seekers of the 1901 Exposition over the years.

We can only imagine what stories of the Colonial Court could still be reverberating here, had Lehighton’s showpiece from that time and place still remained.

Within nine years of T.A's, and within ten months of Emma's death, the once glorious mansion was burned to ashes.

Maybe this is the way it is supposed to be...We do our duty here, we strive toward a standard, a level of perfection as we see fit, and when we are gone, we are gone, with nothing left of our possessions, just vague traces of memory of our work and our name. 

To the Theodore Snyder family, we thank you for that. 



Further Reading: 
Snyder-Hauk-Ames Family Genealogical Research –

The life of Theodore Allen Snyder took him many places, in many capacities.  He was born to John and Francis Snyder in Stroudsburg on April 15, 1857.  He was the oldest of four kids, two boys (William b. 1861) and two girls (Emma b. 1858 and Lizzie b. 1867).  His father was at first a building contractor and lastly a court crier in Monroe County Court House.  The latter position most likely from Theodore’s study of law under the Judge John B. Storm.

He graduated from Millersville Normal School at the age of sixteen and taught grammar sch
A crow's repose atop the Snyder-Hauk monument.  If
the descendants of T.A. and Emma still inhabited the
broad porches of the mansion, they could see the top
of their progenitor's grave.  The home would be
 out of frame and left.
ool in Stroudsburg before becoming the principal of Lehighton’s schools at the young age of twenty.

Theodore and Emma had their first child Raymond John on May 15, 1882.  Edith Snyder was born to them on January 11, 1884.

By 1883 they were living back in Stroudsburg where he studied law under Judge Storm and admitted to the Monroe County bar in 1883.  Judge John B. Storm died sometime around August 23, 1901.  He returned once again to Lehighton to be the principal of the Lehighton Schools in 1883.

Theodore, or “T. A.” as he was now known, is mentioned in at least one article as being “controversial.”  Whether or not it was his first attempt at running for Superintendent of Carbon County Schools that earned this distinction is not known.  In the Fall of 1884, he closed the Lehighton Schools for three weeks during what turned out to be an unsuccessful campaign.  He did however mount a successful campaign in 1885, becoming the youngest County Superintendent in state history.  He was twenty-eight.

He retired from the school system in 1893 and once again opened a law office the papers called “alike satisfactory and profitable.”  He aligned his efforts with his confirmed bachelor brother-in-law Charles A. Hauk who had offices in Lehighton, Mauch Chunk, and Weatherly.  Another foray that perhaps established him as among the wealthiest of town was serving on the boards and as solicitor on two building and loan Associations: The Lehighton Building and Loan and the Enterprise Building and Loan Associations.  (Both of these institutions also had the either subsidiary or successor organizations of the same name but denoted with as “….Building and Loan #2.”)

This early trolley accident, perhaps around 1905, in downtown Lehighton appears courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.  James Blakslee is thought to be the man with the gray goatee near the rear of the car.  Note how glum the motorman looks at the car's doorway.  To his right, see the boy with the cigar in his mouth.  Lehighton was home
to two cigar manufacturers on First St at this time.  For a complete look at the Blakslee and Snyder trolleydays in Lehighton, click here.
There were many well-established business men in town directly involved on the boards of these institutions and who invested capital for their operation.  It has been noted in the “Blakslee’s Trolleys” post of January 1, 2014 of T. A.’s involvement in the establishment of trolley service in town.  In fact, in the year of his death, he was once again nominated to that entity’s board.

On December 23, 1879, Theodore married the Miss Emma Hauk of Lehighton.  She was the daughter of John and Ursula (Elsen) Hauk of Lehighton.  John Hauk was a German immigrant who ran a bakery around 200 North First Street until his death in 1899.  

He was also a member and driving force on Lehighton’s Land Development Company, the one that established the uncharted lands of Lehighton between Fourth and Tenth Streets for residential development.  Previous to this time, save a few scattered homes, the majority of this property was largely agricultural in nature, as evidenced by the few barns and out buildings still in existence there today. 

Just below the Colonial Court, Small and Koch’s Dairy operated between Bridge Street between Seventh and Ninth Sts around this time.  It later evolved into Gerstlauer’s Dairy.  Currently that property is run as Zimmerman’s Dairy today.

One small evidence of the Theodore and Emma’s emer
 ging wealth was evidence by the 42nd birthday party he hosted in April of 1899.  In the absence of electronic entertainment or even records, the Snyder’s and the vast gathering of friends enjoyed the sounds of “G. C. Clauss’ Mandolin Orchestra.”  The papers said the “banquet surpassed anything in that line ever given by an individual in this town.”  They also mentioned that his friends are still speaking of his hospitality in “glowing terms.”

Glanville Clauss was offered $100 if he refrained from touching even a drop of alcohol until his twenty-first birthday.  The Lehighton Press announced his success in this endeavor in April of 1894.  

Both he and Atty. Charles Hauk were talented musicians who played a variety of instruments at many family functions for people of the town.  “G. C” was known to also play piano and one a humorous solo performance that left the crowd in a hypnotic trance.  Both he and Hauk performed bag pipe solos and performed a stirring rendition of the “Ice Song.”

 The Hauk Family: 
After John Hauk Sr. died in January of 1899, his wife Sarah (Elsen) Hauk continued to manage the family bakery business.  Still living at home with their sixty-three year old mother were Miss Agnes Hauk, a public school teacher born in 1861.  
  
Charles A. Hauk, born in April of 1870, was listed as a thirty-year old “student,”  most likely studying law at the time.  The youngest, William E., born in May of 1877 was also a student, attending the University of Pennsylvania on his way to opening a dental practice in Duquesne, Pennsylvania. 
  
Today, we still know of Charles’s penchant for remaining single, at least that is how the papers painted him at the time of Dr. Hauk’s wedding in April of 1909.  As Charles was serving as his brother’s best man, the paper playfully suggested that “C. A.” stood in “fear and trembling,” should the Bishop make a mistake and ask him to “renounce all others and cleave only to one.”  Thereafter joining the “Army of Benedicts” (an expression for a man who gets married) Dr. William Elsen Hauk and the former Miss Mabel Botkin of Duquesne honeymooned in the Bermuda Islands.
The Colonial Court residence would be out of frame
west and right of this picture of the Snyder-Hauk
family graves in Lehighton.

The offspring of Theodore and Ella (Hauk) Snyder:

Raymond John Synder born May 15, 1882 is perhaps the same Raymond J. Snyder who attended Lafayette College in Easton PA in 1903, a member of Sigma Nu fraternity.  At about the time of his mother’s death, he was living at 242 North First Street in Lehighton as a “self-employed newspaperman.”  He died in San Francisco on September 22, 1949.  No further details of a family of his own are known.

Edith May Snyder Ames was born on January 11, 1884 and married Charles Ames of Brooklyn New York.  Charlie and his father owned “Ames Hydrovauc” in the city.  They had two children, Louisa Ames born in Georgia in 1913 and Charles born in 1921.  By 1940, Louisa was married to a Robert Farren in Springfield Massachusetts.  Her nineteen year old brother Charles Jr. was living with her and her family.  He was working as a “physicist’s assistant” at the Springfield Armory. 

Edith Snyder Ames died when Charles Jr was just one year old on March 2, 1922.  She is buried alongside her mother.  Her children and husband are buried elsewhere.

Viola Miller, the daughter of the Colonial Court’s last residents later married Rollin Fritzinger of Lehighton.  He was an insurance agent in town.  Rollin died in July of 1986 and Viola followed him in May 1987.  She was the last known person to have lived in the mansion.

Though once distinguished families of import to the formative years of Lehighton’s settlement, it appears little is known or written about of the Hauk-Snyder families.  For as prominent they once were here, there is scant little written about them on the genealogical sites.  Perhaps a descendent will read this post and help fill in the lines of information these families deserve.

Special thanks to Lamont Ebbert, Gordon Ripkey and my sister Rebecca Rabenold-Finselfor their assistance with this piece.  Also, I’d like to show my gratitude for the 1955 article on the Mansion written by the late Lehighton historian Ralph Kreamer: Your work has have survived, and both you and your words have entered the cyber world dear Ralph!






Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Blakslee's Trolleys

There were maimings, be-headings, and even a murder cover-up along the trolley line between Mauch Chunk and Lehighton...


For a brief time, the Lehighton and Carbon County area was served by an “inter-urban” trolley system. It was a popular form of mass transportation, a necessary bridge from the stagecoach, horse-and-buggy days until the time when cars and buses took over.

The Carbon County Electric Railway or Carbon Transit Company had its beginnings in Mauch Chunk as early as 1892.  At that time, it was James Irwin Blakslee Sr. who controlled the Mauch Chunk Gas and Power Company. 

One of many trolley accidents.  This one at the bottom of South Street, running headlong into the Lehighton
Exchange Hotel sometime around 1905.   Photo courtesy of Brad Haupt collection.


A setback occurred in Coalport (just above the present Jim Thorpe bridge) in late November of 1892.  A portable boiler, being used by Horlacher and Haag to fix the water turbines that generated electricity for the railway, exploded.  It killed one worker named Albright. Two others seriously injured included Frances Daubert of Franklin Township.
This turbine was retrieved from the Lehigh River at Coalport in Jim
Thorpe about ten years ago.  It is believed to be from the power
plant mentioned above.  Visit the Mauch Chunk Museum and
Cultural Center for a closer inspection if you like.  Click here formore info on the museum.




The first power plant for the Lehighton area was in the north end of Weissport.  It was begun by the Carbon County Improvement Company in 1890.  James Blakslee Jr., Blakslee Sr.'s grandson,  purchased the plant and the C.C.I.C. as a whole in 1895.  The light company subsequently charged $5 per month for the electricity used to illuminate the Lehighton-Weissport Bridge.  (It was built in 1889 for $25,500 and painted by local Jacob Strausburger for $200 in December of 1892.) 

The Lehighton-Weissport Bridge built for $25,500 in 1889.  Blakslee's Electric
Company charged $5 per month for lighting the bridge.  Courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.
James I. Blakslee, Jr. became the principal force behind the Lehighton Electric Light and Power Company.  This eventually led to the Carbon Electric Street Railway and trolley service in Lehighton by the early 1900s.

Blakslee also started the grain elevator in Weissport in 1894.  The building still stands and most recently was the home of Sebelin Lumber.  Click here to see more on this business and how it was related to Rickert Wholesale in Weissport. 

Blakslee Jr. lived on Bridge Street, in the stately, former home of Lewis Graver, in what is today’s American Legion Post #314. 
He married Henrietta Bunting of East Mauch Chunk at Christmas time in 1901.  They honeymooned in New York City over the holidays but much work was ahead for this ambitious son of Alonzo Blakslee.  (Alonzo was the nephew of Sarah Blakslee, Asa Packer’s wife.) 
Here is how the Carbon County Improvement Company's electric
powerplant looked in Weissport in April of 1891 (Sanborn Fire
Assessment Map).  Note the Iron Bridge at left and the Fort
Allen Hotel bottom right.

In January of 1901, the Lehighton Town Council approved the right of way for Carbon Electric Railway to operate in Lehighton.  The first cars began to run the following September.

However, the flood of December of 1901 caused severe damage to Blakslee’s plant.  He sought damage claims from the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company, citing coal silt in the Lehigh River as a contributing cause.  He won a $4,000 claim.  But disaster soon struck again.
Above is a close-up of the hydroelectric powerplant in Weissport in 1891.  Below, you can see how much the power
works were improved just five years later.
Dignitaries gather for the driving of the "golden spike."  Among those given the honors of a tap was a PA Dutchman
“Pit Schweffelbenner,” E. H. Rauch, of Mauch Chunk.  He appears to be the man
seated at the right end of the rail, front and center.
Courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.

The February of 1902 flood two months later was even more devastating.  The power plant was completely gone with only the foundation walls remaining.
Compare this March of 1902 map to the one before the December of 1900 and the February 1901 floods.  It would
appear from this drawing that at least for the time being, the electric plant was rebuilt and functional, though there
are "ruins of fire" in the area toward the river.   

James Blakslee Jr. is believed to be the first man in an overcoat at the rear of the car, with cane and white goatee.
Note the young lad near the motorman with the cigar in his mouth.   (Please note, low-resolution pictures were uploaded for this story to dissuade unauthorized copying.  The Haupt collection photos are original, high-quality photos.)
Soon after, another plant, higher above the river, near South Main Lane on the Lehighton side (near the beginning of the present day Lehighton By-pass) was built.
This power house for the Carbon Electric Railway along the
Lehigh River along Bankway should not be confused with the Lehighton
Electric Plant along the Mahoning Creek along Penn St.  It is presently
privately owned parcel of land between the beginning of the Lehighton
By-passand the Lehigh River.
 (Courtesy of the Thomas Eckhart History of Carbon County.)

Another Lehightonian involved with the newly formed electric rail system was Attorney Theodore A. Snyder.  He was the former Superintendent of Carbon Schools and also accumulated a small fortune in land speculation and Lehighton land development. 
A modern view of Blakslee's Carbon Electric Railway power plant built on a higher plane above the Lehigh River (right) than the one built in Weissport in 1890 that was carried away in the February 1902 flood.  The site is privately owned. Photos taken with permission.
The above foundations can be pictured in the 1915 Sanborn Map of Blaklee's Lehighton side of the river powerhouse.

His home at Seventh and Iron Streets was known as the “Colonial Court” Estate.  With few homes in the surrounding area at the time, the extensive grounds included a zoo with peacocks and a deer pen.  Escaping deer were known to cause havoc throughout the town from time to time.

The centerpiece was the mansion he purchased from the 1901 Pan American Exposition in Buffalo New York (where President McKinley was assassinated.)  Snyder fell in love with the sweeping lines of the Michigan State building and had the seven-bedroom mansion transported here piece by piece via the Lehigh Valley Railroad in 1902.
A modern view of this shot could be found standing on Iron Street looking across from the George Hahn property
at Seventh Street.  The cement orbs weree still part of this property just a few years ago, though the
Mansion burned to the ground April 4, 1915.  A followup post later will further examine the Atty Snyder property
and its demise.  Photo Courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.


The home unfortunately burned to the ground on April 4, 1916, nine years after Snyder’s death in 1907.  Until the last few years, the ornamental concrete orbs were still visible at the sidewalks across the street from the Dodge dealership near the Grove.

Other local men associated with the electric company and trolley service were superintendent and electrician at the power house Edward Moser.  Dennis “Chippy” Dugan was one of the many motormen on the local trolley in Mauch Chunk. 

Also, among the motormen were Enos Hauk and Harry Wuchter of Lehighton.  These men became well-known to the passengers along their routes.  Wutcher purchased the Four Mile House in Pleasant Corners in 1906.

Another angle of the car that hit the Lehighton Exchange Hotel.
Courtesy of Brad Haupt Collection.  This picture appears in Ebbert and Ripkey's "Lehighton."  (Click here to purchase.)

The line entered town from the Lentz Farm (today’s Ukranian Homestead), over the Beaver Run Creek ravine, and down Beaver Run Road to the stop at the Main Gate of the Lehighton Fairgrounds. 
The Lehighton Exchange Hotel is at center of this frame.  Note the trolley tracks coming from the right that
then turn in the direction of the parade route.  It is easy to see how the cars could break free of
their restraints and run uncontrolled into the hotel.  Courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.

From there, it went down Mahoning Street to South Street where it joined with the perpendicular line of First Street.  Once downtown, it carried passengers along First Street from the Lehigh Valley Railroad Station to the southern end where the newly built power plant was built. 
The Old Flagstaff Trolley Station.  Courtesy of Brad Haupt Collection.
Not only could residents ride to Flagstaff Park, a favorite destination for many on the weekends, but it also went down over the other side of the mountain to the trolley stop at the Switchback Railroad sub-station (near today’s Jim Thorpe Water Plant on Lentz Trail.)
My grandparents, Zach (above at Flagstaff) and Mamie Rabenold, and
their familyand friends spoke of many a good leisure Sunday at
Flagstaff Park, traveling there by trolley.
These steps remain from the stop at the
bottom of Flagstaff along Lentz Trail and
helped passengers transfer from the trolley
to the Switchback Railroad.

The Switchback was second only to Niagara Falls as a tourist destination (click here for Switchback Railroad link.)  It not only provided thrills to those hearty enough to ride it in those days but was also a transportation link between Jim Thorpe and Summit Hill.   Thus the electric rail helped to connect the communities of Summit Hill, Bloomingdale, Hacklebernie, the Mauch Chunks and Lehighton to the south.
A photo from the 1966 Lehighton Centennial book dated about 1906 shows a car in front of the Lehighton
Exchange Hotel approaching the curve to go up South Street.
Another photo from the 1966 Lehighton Centennial book shows a trolley heading downtown at a stop at Fourth and
Mahoning Streets in Lehighton.  The home on the left is present day Verona's Pizza, formerly Young's Bakery,
formerly Paulsen's Groceries.
Here is the Fourth and Mahoning Street intersection today.  Some of the same houses can be compared after 100 years.

The trolley was surely viewed with both excitement and trepidation.  It made it easier for residents to visit one another.  Still others complained of its dangers.

Just like the railroad accidents of those days as well as like the reports of car accidents today, the newspapers were filled with sensational accounts of injuries and fatalities from the trolleys.  

An investigative perusal of the “Carbon Advocate” and the “Lehighton Press” newspapers from 1894 until 1910, finds thirty-three fatalities from trolleys occurring in the surrounding area.  Ten of those fatalities happened in the immediate Lehighton, Jim Thorpe, and Panther Valley vicinities.

The first death reported in the local papers was in February of 1894, occurring near Harrisburg.  Sixteen year old Myra Brown was coasting on her bobsled that collided with an electric car.  Hugh Callery (five years old) was beheaded in Easton in November of 1894.  Another youngster in a separate incident was dragged under the wheels of a car but survived.  John Edwards of Williamsport was struck on Christmas Day 1894 when the motorman was unable to stop the trolley in time.  Snow covered tracks were to blame.

Trolleys and later cars were considered a menace to those still conveying themselves by horse.  In Bethlehem in January of 1895, Aaron Arner’s horses became frightened, throwing him into the single-tree and he was dragged two blocks.  “His skull was crushed and his face mashed.  He cannot recover.”

The first local death occurred in December 1897 in Mauch Chunk.  “Johnnie”, the seven-year-old son of Daniel O’Donnell, was beheaded by an electric car in front of the court house.  Another boy, John Schlechler, age nine, was badly injured when struck by a trolley in Allentown.  He was still alive when taken home but later died.  His last words to his mother, “Don’t cry mamma, I’m not hurt much.” 
This photo appears courtesy of the Ebbert and Ripkey book "Lehighton" published 2013.  This is taken
from today's First Street looking toward Bankway and Weissport.  (Carbon Podiatry would be out of frame to the
left and the Carbon Minit Mart is out of frame to the right.)  Blakslee's Power Plant would be down the hill
to the left.)  Note the trolley tracks headed toward Weissport as well as the electrical wires above.  (Click here to purchase Ebbert and Ripkey's "Lehighton." 

The second local death also occurred in front of the court house in September of 1900.  A farmer from Pleasant Corners in Mahoning Valley was making his second ever trip to Mauch Chunk to peddle his produce.  He and his family of six had only recently relocated here from Allentown. 

With his seven-year-old son Warren at the reins of his wagon, the horse became agitated as the trolley approached and lurched across the tracks.  The car struck the wagon, sending the boy hurtling.  He was somehow saved by the efforts of the conductor. 

However, his father was not so lucky.  Farmer Lewis A. Wehr was cut in two.  It was said that it took “quite a time” to remove his body from under the car.  He was only thirty-eight and was buried back in Allentown, where his family eventually returned.

In August of 1906, the carriage carrying Milton Whetstone, the cashier at Citizens’ National Bank, and his assistant cashier, Daniel McGeehan, was struck while crossing the line two miles east of Lansford.  McGeehan, twenty-six, claimed the lights showed “safe” to cross.  He recuperated in Ashland Hospital.  Thirty-three year old Whetstone was killed.

Milton had established a name for himself in the banking industry, having been named in the 1905 "Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of the Lehigh Valley" Vol I by John W. Jordan (available on "Google Books").

According to the "Banker Magazine" published in October of 1906, it reported that McGeehan also later succumbed to his injuries.  Whetstone was the son of Absalom and Rebecca Whetstone of Tamaqua.  He married Stella Zeigenfuse/Seigenfose of Tamaqua in March of 1898.  They had one child who survived Russell Hartanft Whetstone.  Russell subsequently had three children, Doris, Jean and Russell Jr. 

In Lehighton, seventy-three year old Daniel Wert died because of Robert Crum’s recklessness.  Sixteen-year-old Crum was trying to race the street trolley with his horse buggy.  Wert was crossing the street on foot “directly under a big arc light” at the corner of Second and South Streets but did not hear the approaching danger.  

He was run down by Crum’s buggy.  He was a Civil War veteran of the 173rd PA Infantry Regiment, Company D, and is buried in Gnaden Hutten Cemetery.

Daniel Wert served during the Civil War but was killed at home.  

Wert’s death was the first of three local trolley deaths due to pranksters and foolishness.  In September of 1901, Caroline Frederica “Carrie” Martz, eight years old, was playing in her yard with her neighbor friend Lillian Ryan on North Street in East Mauch Chunk. 

Up above on the hill, a group of “reckless” boys uncoupled a trolley, causing it to run away uncontrolled into the Martz family yard.  Lillian Ryan survived her injuries.  Carrie Martz died from a crushed skull. 

Another death occurred as a result of a prank on the Fourth of July in 1902.  Miss Bertha Stuckley was walking along the street in Mauch Chunk when a passing trolley exploded a “signal torpedo.”  

The intended purpose of these torpedoes was for a safety warning to be deployed by workers in remote areas on regular freight and passenger lines if a track became obstructed due to a delay or a disabled train.  They were not intended for the use within neighborhoods and cities.

Upon the explosion of the torpedo, a piece of metal hit Stuckley.  The wound caused her death by blood-poisoning only a few days later. The youngsters probably had no idea their prank would lead to her death.  
      
 The first use of a trolley used in a criminal escape happened when former state representative and hotel owner James Griner murdered his step-daughter, Mrs. Caroline Shiffer.  

Mrs. Shiffer had filed a $260 judgment against him for back-pay owed to her as cook at his hotel.  He confronted her in the dining room of his “Pullman Hotel” in Duryea, firing three times missing with the first two.  

The third shot though "pierced her heart."  He was said to have “coolly” jumped into a passing trolley and rode it to Pittston where he gave himself up.

An even grimmer tale occurred outside Lehighton in the Beaver Run area, “below the safety switch on the south-side of the Flagstaff.”  A Slovenian from Lansford by the name of Yohuba Olexin had his body mutilated and leg cut off by the trolley on the night of September 26th, 1906. 
The Beaver Run ravine is approximately eighty feet below the trolley tracks.  This bridge was said to be used
by the people of Beaver Run as a dangerous short-cut to Lehighton.  It was torn down in 1926 though
some evidence of it still remain.  Courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.
The Beaver Run Trestle abutment as it appears today.
This view is facing toward Lehighton, the ravine to
the viewer's back.



This view of the Beaver Run Trestle remains gives some perspective
to the eighty-foot drop off to the creek bed below.  

Oddly though, no moans or sounds were heard by the trolley men and passengers who quickly investigated the body.  They also determined his head and hands were as cold as someone who was dead for at least several hours. 

The coroner’s investigation concluded he was murdered and placed on the tracks as a cover.  They blamed the deed on a group known as the “Black Hand Society.”  The paper claimed such a group existed among the “foreigners” of that time.  Olexin’s brother’s murder in Lansford several years before was also attributed to the same society. 

Not even the well-connected to the rail industry were immune from its accidents.  The Superintendent of the Packerton Yards, Edwin G. Rouse was severely injured in a trolley wreck that occurred while he was visiting his uncle in Bangor.  The paper said he "badly" sprained his back.

In 1910, two trolleys collided just below the crest of the summit at Flagstaff.  The car loaded with twenty-eight passengers was considered an “extra car.”  They were making their way up the mountain from the Switchback Station a few minutes behind the regularly scheduled car.

Unknowingly, a repair car conducted by William Hatrick entered the line near the Beaver Run wagon road intersection between these two cars.  The repair car was headed directly toward the extra car, down the incline at a “lively rate” of speed.  

Seeing the repair car coming toward them and trying to avoid a collision, the extra car driven by motorman Adam Daffner quickly reversed itself back toward Lentz Trail. 

According to jury’s inquest, (which occurred within the rapid space of a week of the accident) and despite Daffner’s and Conductor Howard Minnich’s pleas and attempts to calm them, telling them to remain seated, all would be well, many of the passengers became “hysterical.”  

Though strongly dissuaded and some being physically restrained from doing so, a small group of women were still successfully able to jump from the moving car.  Those women being  Mrs. Herman Beissert, Miss Lottie Beissers, Misses Bertha and Vivia Perschel, Miss Alice Boyle, and Miss Mary Cunningham. 

Freshly cut trees and scaffold hoists appear across the trestle as it was being built in around 1905.  Photo from 1966
Lehighton Centennial book.  Among others, note the boy/man straddling precipitously off a beam at left of frame
 below track level.
Unfortunately, their leap was onto a steep embankment that caused their bodies to roll back onto the tracks.  The repair car passed over and killed Mrs. Beissert and was said to only “mangle” Cunningham and Boyle. 
This view of the trolley right of way in Beaver Run is looking toward the ravine about 300 yards away.  Though
not known to be the location of the terrible accident, the steep banking on the sides makes it easy to see
how Mrs. Beissert rolled back onto the tracks when she jumped from the moving car.  
Both the Lehigh Valley and Jersey Central Railroads had special hospital cars.  The Central car arrived first, dressed what wounds they could, and transported the victims to St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem. 

Cunningham was from Mauch Chunk and Boyle was a teacher from Lansford.  Boyle lost her left foot at the ankle and with a fractured leg was said to be “improving nicely.”  Mrs. Beissert was buried in her home town of Newark New Jersey.  The inquest laid blame on the drivers of the repair car.

Displacing the trolley even before cars would become commonplace, the 1920s saw a quick increase in the use buses as the preferred mode of intra- and inter-urban travel.  

Bethlehem was experiencing congestion on its narrow streets, particularly on days of Lehigh University football games and the professional games on Sundays at Fabricator Field, which was several blocks away from the nearest trolley line. 

The Lehigh Valley Transit Company that ran the trolleys offered to augment the rush periods caused by these games with a small fleet of buses, hence marking the beginning of the end for the street cars. 

The completion of the “Hill-to-Hill Bridge” in 1925 further hastened its end when the L.V.T.C. was unable to secure the right of way for tracks over the bridge.   As a result, the company increased its fleet of buses by ten.

At about this same time, things were rapidly changing here in Lehighton too.  The years leading up to 1926 saw the small locally owned power companies being bought up by the fledgling Pennsylvania Power and Light.  This signaled the end of the line for the Carbon Railway too. 
The work gang circa 1905.  One of these workers is Austin Blew's grandfather of town.  Photo courtesy of the Brad Haupt Collection.  This picture appears on page 58 of Ebbert and Ripkey's "Lehighton" book published 2013.  The version shown here is presented in its widest extent.  Click here for a link to purchase this exceptional resource of Lehighton's history written by two of Lehighton's finest gentlemen.  

In 1926, though still used as a shortcut for people walking from Beaver Run to Lehighton, the eighty-foot high, nearly 400-foot-long trestle was torn down.  It is said to have shared the same fate as the Switchback Railroad: sold as scrap metal to pre-World War II Japan. 

And James Irwin Blakslee Jr., the man who gave so much to Lehighton, died in November of the same year.  He was fifty-five.

Lehighton owes much to Blakslee and his early enterprises here.  He was Carbon’s State Representative for one term in1907 and he started the Lehighton Boys Band in 1912.  He also served as the Fourth Assistant Postmaster General of the United States from 1913 to 1921.

In April 1937, Postmaster General Joe Farley came to Lehighton and dedicated Lehighton’s new post office to the memory of Blakslee’s efforts here.  Prior to the building of Route 443 in 1939, that section of roadway was named “Blakeslee Boulevard” in honor of Blakslee’s efforts here.  

The honor, however, is somewhat dubious, given the continued misspelling of his name.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Invaluable resources that contributed to this article:
~Lamont Ebbert and Gordon Ripkey: "Lehighton," Arcadia Publishing (2013).
~The Brad Haupt Photo Collection.
~Eckhart's History of Carbon County, Volumes II-V (1996-2002).
~Lehighton Centennial Committee 1966 "Lehighton Centennial," (1966).  (Please know plans are under way for Lehighton's 150th Anniversary celebration.  Contact me on Facebook for further information.)